Mediated Maternity

Mediated Maternity : Contemporary American Portrayals of Bad Mothers in Literature and Popular Culture

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Mediated Maternity: Contemporary American Portrayals of Bad Mothers in Literature and Popular Culture, by Linda Seidel, explores the cultural construction of the bad mother in books, movies, and TV shows, arguing that these portrayals typically have the effect of cementing dominant assumptions about motherhood in place-or, less often, of disrupting those assumptions, causing us to ask whether motherhood could be constructed differently. Portrayals of bad mothers not only help to establish what the good mother is by depicting her opposite, but also serve to illustrate what the culture fears about women in general and mothers in particular. From the ancient horror of female power symbolized by Medea (or, more recently, by Casey Anthony) to the current worry that drug-addicted pregnant women are harming their fetuses, we see a social desire to monitor the reproductive capabilities of women, resulting in more (formal and informal) surveillance than in material (or even moral) support.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 146 pages
  • 152.4 x 231.14 x 15.24mm | 362.87g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 0739171178
  • 9780739171172

About Linda Seidel

Linda Seidel is a professor of English at Truman State University.show more

Review quote

Mediated Maternity: Contemporary American Portrayals of Bad Mothers in Literature and Popular Culture, Linda Seidel aims a discerning eye at those media narratives that compel us with their tales of motherhood gone awry and suggests that these stories not only expose the shortcomings of individual mothers but also reveal our collective fears about the role of women in contemporary culture...What Seidel ... offer[s] ... is a series of revealing glimpses into popular representations of American motherhood. Our current media landscape, littered with images of deviant, neglectful, monstrous mothers, is reflective of a cultural moment in which women's intellect, bodies, and economic and political potential are colliding with deep-seated visions of idealized motherhood. Mediated Maternity provides an important analysis of the critical and often contradictory media messages aimed at mothers and moms-to-be and points to the deep and powerful impact these representations have on the roles, rights, and responsibilities of all women. Journal of American Culture Read Linda Seidel's Mediated Maternity and you will never again think in the same way about 'bad mothers.' Her examination of cultural productions and events focused on bad mothers shows insight and compassion, balance and empathy. You will surely find yourself reassessing your own views of motherhood, the family, feminism, and community in an increasingly privatized American economy and culture. -- Jerrold Hirsch, Truman State University By the end of the 20th century the private experience of motherhood was replaced by a 'neoliberal motherhood' that demands total self-sacrifice for the well-being of one's children. Mothers find themselves under surveillance by their peers and communities, and called out as 'bad mothers' if they are unable to live up to such unreasonable standards. Linda Seidel's text provides an important critique of the ways that popular culture and politics unrelentingly reinforce the figure of the bad mother as the scapegoat for the post-Second Wave societal failure to put sustainable pro-family policies into place alongside its ideological expectations of the strong, independent working mother. -- Laura Mattoon D'Amore, Roger Williams University Seidel's book expertly interrogates the ideology behind the 'bad mother' as it is delivered in the media, film, and novels. Students of cultural, media, and gender studies will find it a thoughtful and thought-provoking read. -- Elizabeth Klaver, Southern Illinois University at Carbondaleshow more

Table of contents

Acknowledgments Introduction: Mediated Motherhood Part I: The Nancy Grace Effect Chapter 1. Nancy Grace and the Motherhood Critics Chapter 2. Neonaticide in Nancy Grace and Jodi Picoult Part II: Working-Class Mothers in White and Black Chapter 3. Gone Baby Gone: Reproducing the Bad Mother Chapter 4. Stereotyping the Black Welfare Mother in Precious Part III: Alienated Maternity in White Professional Women Chapter 5. Creating the Reality of Postpartum Depression in Shields' Down Came the Rain and Morton's Breakable You Chapter 6. Glenn Close and the Monstrous Maternal: Mothers and Daughters in Damages Epilogue: Motherhood in Context Referencesshow more

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